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Spontaneity: A Side Effect of Rheumatoid Arthritis??

Spontaneity: A Side Effect of Rheumatoid Arthritis??

Growing up I was pretty straight-laced. I didn’t break the rules or push my limits. Even after my mother passed away I didn’t rebel against my father. I was a curious kid but I was not necessarily adventurous.

In high school, when all my friends were experimenting with different things I didn’t join in. I was a boring teenager.

College was the time for me to break loose, go overboard and do all the things I never tried growing up. Yeah right. I barely drank alcohol and didn’t experiment with drugs. I didn’t party but spent most of my time studying or watching serials. In short, I was an even more uninteresting young adult.

I planned out my life. After I finished my undergraduate degree I would take a year off and gain some more vet-med experience. I would complete my DVM degree, finish my residency and start specializing. I thought I would be in school for most of my 20s and I was okay with that. I kept my nose to the grindstone and rarely lost the path I was on.

I was extraordinarily mundane.

I hoped one day I would hear the call of the wild but it just wasn’t in my nature. I frequently wished that one day I could be more spontaneous and stop preparing for every eventuality. I hoped that one day I could live life as it hit me.

Well, I got my wish. Just not in the way I expected.

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in my early 20s and every day since has been a surprise. I live by the hour, not by the decade because I don’t know what new obstacles each day will bring. I wake up every morning wondering what I am capable of and usually, it never goes to plan.

Before my RA, I wanted to get through my education so I could set myself up financially and start my adult life. I thought I could do everything I enjoyed after I retired. Now, I have no idea what my body will be like by the time I’m 60 so I should probably enjoy my life right now.

Before my RA I planned my life to the letter.

I made lists and tasks and checked them off as I went. I was also a massive procrastinator so a lot of my tasks were pushed to the last minute. Now I find myself jumping on tasks sooner because I don’t know how I’ll feel later. I also don’t plan out nearly as much as I used to. I make a rough outline of my day not really to follow it but as a reminder of major events because my memory is shot to pieces.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a difficult disease. There are so many things that make me angry and sad. I gave up a lot because of my new limitations. But, frequently, I admit it has made my life better in some ways: I take more risks, I don’t dwell on things as much and life is for living not just planning!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • elvis
    10 months ago

    Thanks for sharing everyone!
    I’m 57 and RA snuck up on me in my 40’s.
    my Post is titled: Am I an Alcoholic.
    somehow I knew something was wrong, alcohol helped, but I didn’t know the full scope or condition until I went into rehab and when I was finished, I wasn’t any better. that set me on a new course, which we are all following:
    how do deal with the lazy fatigue, deal with family, friends and work. MY friends always comment – he’s home in bed, kind of like a joke. The only one who really seems to care is one bartender-denny, I realized he has the UC bag for digestion, and he’s been through what we’re going thru. how do deal with this from day to day! Good Luck and thank you, we need more denny’s!!!!

  • Kimmieguy
    10 months ago

    You nailed it! Thanks for sharing. I have had a similar experience with life and RA. I have had RA for 20 years, but what it has taught me is priceless. I count it as a blessing usually.

  • starscream
    11 months ago

    I was also an intense planner but not boring. I have a flex hour intense career. My planning was very ambitious and my career intense. With RA I can have a disaster day that sets me back. Now I end up working weekends to catch up. So I am less spontaneous since I used to do something like say: “oh, nice weather lets go to the beach, and catch up on the weekend” while now those fun days are gone since I need to save up the weekend work time for catching up from a day in bed. What I do more is read tons of novels when I am sick. That is nice.

  • Mafalda
    11 months ago

    I’m 57. Although I manage to stay upbeat and don’t let RA (plus Fibromyalgia and other related conditions) rule my emotions, I can’t put aside the fact that it has radically changed my life and ruined the plans I had for the later years.
    My many limitations preclude spontaneity. Any plans must be carefully crafted and considered, while bearing in mind that they might have to be cancelled in short notice if I’m not feeling up to par.

  • starscream
    11 months ago

    Yeah I agree on that. Now the planning has to involve the back up planning in case a bad day happens. Example: now flights with connections need extra time to get between gates in case I need the wheelchair. I have to check ahead about elevators in hotels and buildings where I need to work. I travel a ton for work. I used to add in a day of vacation while traveling, now usually that spare day is a back up day in case the RA flares.

  • starscream
    11 months ago

    I’m only 48 so this career needs to last another couple decades.

  • Shelby4087
    11 months ago

    I am almost 85 years old. I, too, have given up much because of RA, but I find that I am much less apt to take risks now than before I was diagnosed. For example, I thought nothing of traveling alone to strange foreign countries that interested me when I could not find anyone else to go. Now, I am afraid of leaving my home, my doctors, my creature comforts because I fear that RA flare dark cloud hanging overhead. It’s partly age, but I think the RA and daily pain fluctuations are severely limiting and certainly do not support spontaneous activity for me!

  • starscream
    11 months ago

    I have to travel for work, so I bring all the info about RA with me and meds to handle a flare, and notes translating everyone about RA to the language of the country I am visiting. I warn the airlines I may need a wheelchair, although luckily I don’t need it unless I’m flaring.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    11 months ago

    At age 38 i looked up from my desk and wondered why I was not already finished with life. I had the job I wanted my entire life, I had the family I wanted, and I had more money than I deserved.

    I was shocked and I was miserable. It took a few years and I got a new job but I had to figure out how to proceed. I hope your experience is better than mine. I was glad that I started therapy and found a new job to focus on.

    Life is so full of misunderstanding about who we are and how fast or slow we need to move. I trust that it will work out in the wash.

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